Will Work for Chocolate

July 15, 2013 at 7:00 am | Posted in Family, Me, Serial Commas | 17 Comments
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OBJECTIVE
Raise three kind, creative, patient, helpful, empathetic children while maintaining my sanity, marriage, and hidden cache of chocolate.

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS

  • 7+ years of experience growing, birthing, and raising children.
  • Expertise in multi-tasking, resource allocation, conflict management, customer service, program development, scheduling, chauffeuring, and train-track assembly.

SKILLS

  • Successfully completes numerous tasks simultaneously, including talking on the phone, digging a red Matchbox car out of my purse, wiping someone’s nose, and cutting off sandwich crusts (after washing my hands, of course).
  • Arbitrates disputes over who ate whose Cheerios, who squished whose roly poly, who isn’t sharing the paper-towel-tube telescope, and who pulled the dog’s ear first.
  • Teaches manners to otherwise caveman-like children who resist learning to pee in the potty, share their toys, and color on the paper (and only the paper).
  • Utilizes educational resources including television, computers, and video games to prepare children for school.
  • Possesses uncanny knack for knowing location of missing household items including left red rainboot, yellow cupcake eraser, favorite stuffed bunny, froggy sippy cup, and library book due tomorrow.
  • Treats boo-boos from keeto bites and cat scratches to goose eggs and stubbed pinky toes.
  • Manages four laundry baskets, three toilets, 56 markers, 56 marker lids, and one husband.
  • Able to overcome a variety of obstacles, including sleep deprivation, wasp nests, and refusals to eat broccoli or anything green for that matter.

AWARDS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Clean floors if you don’t look too closely.
  • Record WWF score once of 114 points for the word “zouk,” obtained while children were feeding Play-Doh pizza to the dog.
  • Children who sleep through the night in their own beds. Mostly.
  • Recipient of lifetime supply of rainbow drawings.

EDUCATION

Are you hiring? What skills are on your mothering resume? And would you like to be paid in Cookies & Creme Hershey Kisses, too?

+++

I is for “I’m an innovator in my industry.” See more I’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Bag Lady

May 6, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Posted in Family, Me | 18 Comments
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I got a new bag. It’s big. It’s cute. And it was on sale!

It’s the kind of bag that looks like it might hold exciting things like designer lip gloss, breath mints in a fancy silver tin, an iPad, or a chic planner with entries like “Mani/Pedi” and “Drinks with J.”

But no. Not my bag. While stylish on the outside, inside it’s all business. Okay, it’s mostly business with a smidgen of chaos. Because my bag is a mom bag.

Here’s an inventory:

  • 1 cloth sunglasses case with green marker stain (and, surprise, the sunglasses are actually inside!)
  • 1 brown paper bag snagged from restaurant in case my sick child needs to puke in the car
  • Girl’s size 6X red sweater
  • Craft store flyer and coupon (Bonus: coupon not expired)
  • Receipt from recent merchandise return stapled to original receipt stapled to temporary store membership card because real membership card is … not in bag
  • Wallet (whose contents include a Romanian bus ticket, the Clean 15 list, a dental floss coupon, and a heaven-sent Starbucks gift card)
  • 2 bottles hand sanitizer
  • Tissues (unused, I think)
  • Shout wipes (unused, I think)
  • Fancy bottle of sunscreen from infamous weekend in Florence
  • 3 tubes chapstick (Carmex, Blistex, and cherry-flavored)
  • 1 large package baby wipes
  • 1 pair 3T Thomas the Tank Engine undies
  • 1 pair 3T Batman undies
  • 1 set of instructions for a “Kids Herb Planter”
  • 3 packages fruit snacks
  • 1 empty fruit snack wrapper
  • 3 pieces Super Bubble gum
  • 1 rubber duckie
  • 2 reusable grocery bags
  • Keys
  • More keys
  • Orange emergency whistle
  • 3 Wendy’s coupons that expire tomorrow
  • 1 “Best Smiles Dental” pen
  • 1 rusted penny from the playground
  • 1 rusted washer from the playground
  • 1 cell phone, 14 Words with Friends games in progress, 20% of battery remaining
  • 1 Sleeping Beauty cell phone with 3 dead AG13 batteries (Note to self: find and purchase AG13 batteries)
  • 1 library book (Bonus: not overdue)
  • 1 Sheriff Woody toy hat
  • 1 green bouncy ball
  • 1 Blue Bell ice cream lid

What’s in your bag? A puke bag? Thomas undies? Expired coupons? Rusted washers? And what else??

Help Wanted

April 23, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop | 29 Comments
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It happens every day. At 2:42 p.m. Or thereabouts.

Mommy loses it.

It starts just after I pick up Lollipop from school. We pull into the driveway and tumble out of the car in various stages of undress. Because somebody couldn’t make it the three minutes home without shedding their socks. Or headband. Or pants.

Counting …

… my …

We burst into the house like the prelude to a fireworks show. Pop! … Pop! … Pop! … Only instead of smoke and color, we leave behind backpacks and sticky lunchboxes. Torn wisps of a junk-mail envelope. Acorns. Shriveled dandelions. A collection of seeds and a few slimy tissues.

Then somebody wants a snack. Goldfish. No, Cheerios. No, goldfish and Cheerios. Not the Honey Nut kind, the other kind. In the green bowl. No, in the yellow bowl. The other yellow bowl.

Then somebody else wants goldfish and Cheerios and it’s not fair that he got them fiiiiiiiiiiiirst.

Then somebody needs a bottom wiped. Or a booger extricated. Or a mosquito bite calamined.

Or a Barbie dress buttoned.

Or a marble removed from a matchbox car.

Or a marker lid fished out of the dog water.

Or a sticker unstuck from the kitchen table.

Or a pencil sharpened.

Or the yucky brown spot cut off the banana.

Or some batteries replaced.

… chaotic …

… blessings.

Or some pretend-cupcakes put in the real oven to pretend-cook.

Or a stamp for a letter that may or may not be a blank sheet of paper.

Or more goldfish and Cheerios in the yellow bowl (no, the other yellow bowl) that is now lodged under the couch. Between a giant dust bunny and the very last shred of my sanity.

And I invariably say something like, “Oh, for Pete’s sake, just go play outside!” Or “My ears can’t take it anymore!” Or “Mommy needs QUIET!” Or “Just go and watch TV and leave me ALONE for 5 minutes!”

And I think Did I really just order my children to watch television?

I hate that it comes to that. What’s more, I hate that it comes to that so often.

Tiny hands tugging on my shirt, always tugging.

Demands, some polite, yes. But some … not.

Shrill voices trying to out-shrill each other for my attention.

Tears. Fighting. Noise.

Mess.

Laundry that’s fluffing. Again.

Dinner that’s half-cooked or over-cooked. Or PBJ … again.

Mommy who’s grumpy. Again.

By the time my husband walks in the door, I’m ready to lock myself in our dark closet and curl up with my son’s yellow blankie. I crave silence. Darkness. Sensory deprivation. Recharged batteries. Sanity.

Oh, sweet sanity.

Help Wanted: How do you negotiate the blessing that is a chaotic family? How do you keep a fingernail’s hold on inner peace? And how many times have you locked yourself in a dark, quiet room?

+++

“W” is for Help Wanted … See more Ws at Jenny’s on Thursday.

Jenny Matlock

My Half-Life

January 22, 2013 at 4:50 am | Posted in Family, Me | 14 Comments
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In exactly two months, I’ll be 35.

If I’m lucky, I still have half of my life to live. And if I’m not so lucky … well, I have less.

Contemplating that has led to a few heart palpitations in the shower, a few nightmares involving wildcats and curvy roads and getting lost in the grocery store.

What have I done with the time that’s gone? What haven’t I done? What do I want from the time that remains?

I have no idea. And no time to contemplate it between the loads of laundry, the sticky breakfast dishes, the cat puke, the potty training, the freelance work, the sleep I’m not getting, the calories I’m not burning, the endless piles of toys, and the downloaded movie queue I’ll never, ever make it through.

Or maybe I should put it this way. We have clothes to wear, meals to eat, and dishes to eat them on. We have healthy pets and healthy kids. We have work that pays the bills. We have more fun ways to spend our free time than we have actual free time. We have each other, and we are lucky. I am lucky.

But I still can’t ignore this emotional tug to take stock and re-prioritize, to dig around in my mental sandbox and see what’s buried in there. Won’t that ultimately make me better? A better woman, a better mother, a better partner, a better person?

Too many days, I feel myself bracing for the chaos and noise and dirty socks I know are coming. I wish for something to be different, but I’m not sure what. Or how. Or even why I want something to change.

Because I am lucky. I am. I know this.

Like the plastic gold coins my boys just unearthed in the playroom, my own treasures are already within reach.

How do you make time for a little honest-to-goodness soul-searching? What helps remind you that you’re lucky? And what’s been recently rediscovered in your family’s playroom?

The Fixer

November 10, 2012 at 8:19 am | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Haiku Friday, Lollipop | 6 Comments
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Haiku Friday: The Fixer

 

They yell for me when
they need the scissors or that
Green train that’s missing.

Upstairs, downstairs, on
The phone, or elbow-deep in
An epic diaper:

I can fix it all,
Even though what I want is
To fold the towels.

But the illusion
Of my perfection will fade
Like last year’s swimsuits.

They’ll grow up, grow wise.
They’ll see me — the mom behind
The tab-topped curtain.

The one who craves calm
And sleep and a day off to
Plow through a good book.

What toys can only you find? When’s the last time you had an uninterrupted phone conversation? And what would you do with a day off from mothering (or fathering)?

A Country Mile

July 11, 2011 at 9:57 am | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop, Transylvania | 25 Comments
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My husband recently asked me what I was doing with myself these days. I laughed. Okay, I sort of laughed. He back-peddled.

“I mean, now that Lollipop and Giggles are in preschool all week,” he said. “Don’t you get bored? Won’t this apartment start to drive you nuts?”

The answer? Probably, yes. But right now? I’m savoring it.

I do laundry, and I put it away. On the same day. I mop and no one inadvertently sprinkles specks of leaves on my wet floors. I walk down the hill to the market and back up toward home pushing 25 pounds in the double stroller, instead of 65. I have the brain space to notice the wildlife and the produce and the bumper stickers … instead of how many feet meters are between my children and the taxi careening toward us.

If it’s cold and rainy, Bun and I burrow in our beds and nap. We play “You Didn’t Eat That Magnet, Did You??” We empty and fill and empty and fill the dish-towel drawer. We share cookies and laugh at each other. We swing and read our Kindles at the playground. (Okay, he swings. I read. It works.)

We enjoy each other’s company in a way we’ve never been able to before. And sometimes it feels selfish. All day, just me and the baby? Yes. Don’t my older children need me? Yes. Don’t they miss me? And vice versa? Yes.

But the truth is, they are getting so much more out of this year abroad by going to school than I could ever show them. They are with children their own age, many who speak two or three languages. They are cared for by teachers who want them to do well, want them to make friends, want them to be happy here. They have easy and immediate access to clay and paint and beads and real, live goldfish. They come home and report that, yes, they do like cabbage.

That’s not to say it’s been easy. It hasn’t. More days than not, they wake up and say they don’t want to go. There are tears at drop-off and cheers on Friday. But there are also smiles at pick-up. And goodbye hugs for new friends. And art projects, petals, and rocks proudly gripped in small hands. There are tales of cake for afternoon snack. Cake!

And with time for myself and the baby? I’m more patient. I’m gentler with my words. I’m a better mother. I’m a better me.

Funny thing is, it took 6,000 miles for me to realize it. I’ve come a long way. In more ways than one.

What makes you better? Have you ever been burnt out without realizing it? Isn’t it funny when caring for one child seems like a break?

+++

Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
.
See the photos.

Haiku Friday

June 3, 2011 at 10:00 am | Posted in Family, Haiku Friday, Transylvania | 16 Comments
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Haiku Friday: Now Boarding

Two parents, three kids,
Ten bags, two car seats, eighteen
Hours of kid movies …

Notebooks, stickers, snacks,
Two boxes of sharp crayons,
Seven stuffed bunnies …

Kindles, laptops, mice,
And one huge double stroller …
Time for a Xanax.

Off we go. Catch you on the flip side!

Partners in Time

May 8, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Bun | 17 Comments
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It’s Mother’s Day. On this very day last year, my son was born. My third child. My 10-pounder. My baby.

What a year it’s been. He smiled.  He ate and grew. Then he didn’t. Then he did again. He rolled over, sat up, and pulled up. He discovered his hands, his toes, and his voice.

In so many ways, he is the typical youngest child. He is vocal. He demands to be heard because if he doesn’t, his requests will certainly be drowned out by the din of siblings hard at play, pets sniffing out abandoned Cheerio caches, and vacuum cleaners beating them to it.

He prefers to be held. And he prefers that it’s me who’s holding him. He eats if I coax bites into his mouth. If I don’t, he squishes and lobs them instead. He soothes himself to sleep. But he frequently lets me know that he would rather I do it for him.

He needs me. Just me. Only me. Or at least, he wants me to think he does.

And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dote on him. Just a teeny bit. I love to put my cheek against the soft, little hairs on the back of his head. I love to feel his chubby fingers grab onto my sleeve when I hold him. I love that I get to bathe him all by myself every single night.

But these moments are stolen ones. We’re co-conspirators, Bun and me, going about our ordinary days doing ordinary things and biding our time until we get to pause the world and everything in it, except for the two of us. It’s as if he knows this won’t last forever. And he wants to savor it as much as I do.

Out of necessity, I can’t afford many of these moments. There are grocery lists, beds, and casseroles to make. There are dishes, clothes, and small sets of arms and legs and ears to sunscreen. There are playdates and overseas moves to coordinate.

There’s not enough time. There’s never enough. But love? There’s plenty of love.

Do you remember Bun’s birth story? And my husband’s take on it? Do you have a birth story or birthday letter to share? Leave a link in the comments.

Must Have Been the Eggs

April 25, 2011 at 12:27 am | Posted in Bun, Lollipop | 17 Comments
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Easter weekend … time to slip on the flip-flops and get knee-deep in crinkly fake grass, discarded Cadbury wrappers, neon plastic eggs, bowls full of Paas dye, hollow chocolate bunnies, and puke. Yes, puke.

What, you just got jelly beans from your Easter Bunny? Then you didn’t learn any of these valuable lessons, did you? Consider this:

1. Vomit, when it comes from the top bunk, has a phenomenal range.

2. The tell-tale cries from upstairs will begin just as you sit down to devour the book you’ve been aching to finish.

3. You will discover that black licorice and string cheese is the grossest combination of thrown-up food ever. Ever. You will be surprised by the color. And the consistency. (Your curiosity is piqued, isn’t it?)

4. You will briefly be pleased with your ability to remember high-school math when you deduce that the amount of laundry generated by a puking spell grows exponentially, not linearly, to the number of hours the spell lasts.

5. The carpet will get puked on when the in-house carpet cleaner is out of the country. A frantic middle-of-the-night text begging him to come home and teach you to use the Little Green Machine will make him laugh but won’t help you. You will do your best and be pleased that only one or two spots are still a little crusty.

6. Wooden train tracks can be put in the washing machine. On the heavy cycle. With bleach.

7. Your daughter will get a stomach bug when she is growing her bangs out. It will be gross.

8. She will want to watch Annie in between all the vomiting and pepper you with questions about Depression-era politics, the history of orphanages, animal welfare laws, and fashion choices for redheads. You will be much too exhausted to answer any of these beyond a mumbled “Maybe we can find a book at the library.”

9. She will hit the puke bowl 8 out of 10 times. You will consider this extremely good luck.

10. You will Lysol everything that could have possibly gotten germs on it. And wash your hands 94 times. And defer food preparation for at least 48 hours. And the baby? Will still get sick.

What did the Easter Bunny bring your family? What’s the grossest puke you’ve ever cleaned up (come on, don’t be shy)? And don’t you want some Twizzlers now?

Haiku Friday

April 8, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in Giggles, Haiku Friday, Lollipop | 9 Comments
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Haiku Friday: Just Another Manic Fun Day

Fun: dunking pretzels
In your big-kid cup until
They squish in your hand.

Fun: peeing in the
Yard, even if your pants and
Socks get in the way.

Fun: putting stickers
On the cat, especially
When he howls at you.

Fun: jumping on the
Bed, even though you know the
Fate of the monkeys.

Fun: using seven
Dollops of soap to wash your
Toes in the sink. Twice.

Fun: giggling over
Knock-knock jokes that don’t make sense
And involve poo-poo.

Fun: unloading clean
Dishes and folding towels.
(Mom likes this one, too!)

What do your kids think is fun? What do you think is fun? And where’s the overlap?

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